For Christmas 2006 I decided to brew a special batch of beer for my friends and family. Since I’d recently read Farmhouse Ales: Culture and Craftsmanship in the European Tradition by Phil Markowski, I decided to brew a bière de noel. To complete the package I wanted to use bottles that matched the style. After a fruitless Internet search and little luck from my local homebrew shop (LHBS), I finally came across the supplies I needed from Beer, Beer, and More Beer.
Table of Contents
- Page 1 – Intro, Tools and Supplies, The Process – Step 1
- Page 2 – The Process – Step 2 through 5
- Page 3 – The Process – Summary, Storing Your Beer, What I’d Do Differently
- Page 4 – The Process – Q&A
Tools and Supplies
- Colonna Capper/Corker – about $60. I got mine from my local homebrew shop.
- Belgian Style Beer Bottles – case of 12 for about $30. Alternatively you can use recycled bottles from your favorite Belgian brews.
- Belgian Corks – about $6 for 25.
- Belgian Bottle Wire Hoods – about $4 for 25.
You can also find these at the Northern Brewer website.
The process of bottling in Belgian bottles isn’t that different from normal. I’m not going to cover the steps of sanitization and priming because you just do those as normal.
I haven’t thought through carbonating in the keg. Doing that should reduce the amount of yeast in the bottle but that yeast is probably beneficial to the bottle conditioning process.
Finally, I apologize for the slightly blurry pictures. The wasn’t much light in my kitchen and my camera was running low on batteries so I couldn’t use the flash.
Step 1: Adjusting Your Corker
I start by setting the base height to just below the cork holder. I experimented with both different base height settings and amounts I needed to turn the handle in order to get the right amount of cork sticking out of the bottle. This has to be done just once and then you can mark the base height with a sharpie so you can get repeatable results.